Expert tips on choosing a wedding photographer.
After all of the excitement of the big day has simmered down and you’re now living your life happily married there is only one element you’re waiting on.
So how do you ensure that what you envisioned for your wedding photos to what you actually receive are going to match? It’s not like you can go back and have the photos taken again.
Choosing a wedding photographer can seem like a daunting task, and it actually can be, but if you follow these expert tips and you will ensure you have beautiful memories to look back on for years to come.
Set your budget
There is no point finding a fantastic photographer only to find that they are out of your budget. It will only set you up for disappointment and all other choices afterwards will seem inferior.
Bali has many choices and wedding packages available when it comes to photography and videography and you get what you pay for. The average price for a mediocre photographer will be around $500 for 2-3 hours, midrange prices are about $1200 - $2000. If only the best will do, then be prepared to spend around $4000 plus for your photos.
While it does come down to what you can afford remember that these are the physical reminders of your wedding. These are the memories that you will be looking back on in 50 years from now. You want to have happy feelings when you look at them, not a constant reminder of how bad the photographer was.
Choose your style
Before you even start looking at photographers you should choose a style for your photographs, doing this will narrow down your list of potential photographers making it easier for you to decide on the one that suits you the best.
Do a search on wedding photo styles and you soon realise that there are many to choose from.
Do you want formal, posed photographs? Maybe you have a flair for the dramatic and want high contrast and mood? What about a photojournalistic style, where your photographer is in the crowd taking candid shots, full of real emotion. Or even soft, romantic style.
There really are so many styles to choose from, that we recommend starting with a pin-board of all your favourite photos you’ve found online, in print or anywhere really, then try to narrow it down to what you really like about them. Is it the soft focus, the drama of the background, the bold colouring?
Once you have your style then it’s time to move on to the next step.
Start your search
You don’t need to be too fussy here. If you find a photographer that is in the location you want and they have photos you like then mark them down.
Next is to match them with the above two points. Contact them and ask if they do the style of photography you want and to send you a portfolio of that style. Now it’s time to weed out the ones that don’t match what you’re after and those that don’t have the quality you expect. Keep in mind that the photos that the photographer is sending you is their best photos. To ensure that you get this quality for your wedding photos that is covered later.
Now that you’ve narrowed down the list of photographers that specialise in the style you want, it’s time to whittle it down further by asking for their rates and everything it includes.
Once you have a short list of photographers that suit your style and budget the task is no longer looking as daunting as it first did.
Ask for testimonials
Any photographer worth their salt will be more than happy to share their testimonials. And why wouldn’t they? Each and every good review is a testament to their craft and quality.
Ask if they can put you in direct contact with previous clients and then ask them about their experience. How did it go on the day, did they get what they asked for, are they happy with the finished result?
This little bit of arduous work can mean that you can be confident that your shortlist of photographers will deliver the photos you want.
Question the photographer
Now is the time to ask the questions that will help you decide on the photographer that is right for you.
First question to ask is are they available for your wedding dates? Kind of a no brainer.
Have they shot at your chosen wedding venue? This is not a deal breaker but if they have it comes with the advantage of them knowing the best places to take shots and have experience with the lighting conditions.
Are they the one that will take the photos on the day or will they be sending one of their staff? Some agencies have multiple photographers on their books. Make sure you check.
How will they be storing the photos? We all know things can go wrong, and what happens if there is only one backup of your photos and they are lost or damaged? Being prepared reduces the risk.
Will there be a second photographer there on the day? Sometimes this is a good investment as you have more chances of getting the perfect shot. Other times the photographer might get their staff to take photos of the groom while they take shots of the bride and bridal party getting ready. If this is the case, ask to see their portfolio too.
Schedule a meeting
You can’t go on looks alone. You need to know who will be capturing the shots on the day. You will be spending the whole day together so you want to make sure you get along.
This is also a good time to go through some of their other work and ask some more refined questions.
Make sure that they understand your vision. Do they make you feel comfortable?
In order to get the best photos, go with someone who has a firm grasp of social niceties but is bold enough to go out hunting for great images and who puts you at ease, you don’t want someone that irritates you in any way. Remember: They'll be shadowing your every move.
Your photographer needs to be assertive enough to seek out great moments, persuasive enough to coax natural smiles and poses from guests. The potential photographer should ask lots of questions and be a good listener.
Read the contract, then read it again.
You need to know all the details and that before you sign on the dotted line you understand what is and what isn’t included.
Does the photographer retain the rights to the photos, even the ones of you? A lot of photographers will use their work to show on social media and in print and any photos you share will need to have their watermark on it. Make sure you understand exactly what your rights are.
How many hours will they be working for?
What happens if it rains, do they have a contingency plan?
How long will it take to receive the photos?
It can take anywhere from one month to several months to edit all of the photos so it’s good to know how long it will take so that you don’t unnecessarily annoy the photographer.
What are your options if you have to cancel or postpone the wedding? We all know that the pandemic caused heartbreak to many potential brides and grooms that didn’t expect to have their plans upended. Knowing your rights and options will save you many sleepless nights.
Trust your gut
After all is said and done, when you’re choosing vendors for a wedding you almost immediately know who is right for you. Who made you feel comfortable? Who “totally got” what you were saying? As long as your shortlist includes candidates that meet your style, budget, vision and make you feel comfortable you really can’t put a foot wrong.
So it’s time to make the decision. Go with your gut.